Saturday, April 23, 2011

Making a hotel booking in India

India is a marvelous and colorful destination with lot of freedom and diversity. It is fun to travel from one part of the country to another and experience the cross cultural diversity and varied ethnic profiles. The people are very hospitable and warm, it is good to mix with local families and communities.

There are hardly any orthodox communities, hence it is easy and fun to mingle with them men women children all. Some people are sensitive about food as they are vegetarians but not anything else....may be places of worship..you should enter bare feet. And yes try to war local garb or Indian dress you will really be accepted fast. Do not trust single men for they may be trouble makers. Some people on roadside or destinations are very curious about foreign visitors, politely brush them aside. 

Safe Travel 
Anyway traveling in the country is safe provided you take basic precautions that you would take in any other country. The more planned your itinerary is the better it is. Your holiday can get mired in bewildering confusing in this large country without preplanned efforts. In deep recess you may not find modern amenities and facilities so purchase all your stuff and carry along. Find before hand what is available and what is not? 

Hotel Reservation

Many Indian hotels have not yet gone online in a proper way.  Making a hotel search and having an online tour of the accommodation is not that easy. The website are built haphazardly hence you do not get a good impression of the property. 

The hotel owners are not aware of online marketing or have little faith in it. Since online search is limited in India but booking does come from a properly placed site on SERPs. If you have no contact in the destination you are visiting than the travel agent, review sites and word of mouth is your only information source. These are unreliable at times so you may not find things as had been told to you.

Take a destination guide that would be a great help. Some guides like Lonely Planet are very reliable. These are one stop shop for travel and related information. Carry one with you always. Read as much about India as you can with focus on the route you are taking and the destinations to be visited.  

The lanes and by lanes where the hotel is situated may be confusing. In the maze of Indian mega city it is easy to get lost and loose your stay. Best is to take a card and phone number before you step out. Even if you need a local guide ask your hotelwalla. He is gaining from you so will he hesitate to help you. 

In this country all properties in cities and tourism destinations have touts or roadside booking agents. Your rickshaw wallah, auto driver, taxi driver will help you in booking but then they have their own loyalties. You would be lucky if you get to the right place for a stay.  But this also time wasting since you may have to rush immediately for a meeting.

Online Bookings

So the only recourse are websites online with proper information some review sites like trip adviser, fodors, frommers, travel post and the about.com are reliable source. There are many blogs and websites like brand hotels Worldwide that offer reliable information since they have no loyalties with any one.  But at the most this contains little information.

When making reservations online do not just send your stay information and send money. It is better to get full information  using the online form. After few conversations you can take the plunge.

Tour Formalities
So it remains difficult for a visitor from foreign country to choose an accommodation online. Any once you have landed at your destination hotel resort than what. Well first you need an identity card like your passport. For Indians driving license, Income tax pan card will do for identity. An ATM card does not work please remember. 

For inbound visitors it is important that their arrival and departure information is passed to the nearest police station. You have to fill forms in which passport information is submitted. It is the resort owners responsibility to see that the information is submitted to the police. Fill in the booking information for sure. The hotels have a common register for noting down the bookings this is compulsory and you are secure once your details are noted down. Do keep friends and relatives informed as to where you have stepped in.  The precautions are necessary if your are putting up at a budget lodge or a cheap city inn. Some areas may be unsafe in a destination so try to find out the locality and do not stay there. And yes do not move around late or avoid travel at night.  

Before checking in you must have visited the room and made sure of you comforts. In the room keep all your valuable locked or deposit them in a hotel locker. Take special care of your passport and money loosing either of them will be terribly. As and when you move out make sure that you hire a taxi or auto that the accommodation provides. Hence you will be traveling locally with somebody known. Most of the hotels and resorts are in touch with travel services hence it is safer to hire through them.   

On the first day of the stay make sure of the food. Indian cuisine is marvelous but you can make request to lower down a thing or two specially chillies. Never at at roadside joints in case of emergency pick up a plain vegetable, roti or naan all hot right out of the pan. Carry branded mineral water all along.

Ignore the consternation and uncertainty. India is a wonderful country with lots to offer in varied niche sectors in tourism. Read a lot on travel basics and the come home for many a magical journeys.   

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